‘Bloodshot’ Movie Review: Vin Diesel Relives His Life A Quarter Mile At a Time
Bloodshot is based on a Valiant comic, but for less comic book literate viewers, it may remind you more of sci-fi films like Robocop or Universal Soldier. It is a watered down version of both, and watering down Universal Soldier doesn’t leave much since it was already a Terminator knock off. Vin Diesel hasn’t done one of those yet, although he did come back from the dead in xXx.
Still, Bloodshot may be enough of a Diesel fix until Fast 9 comes out in May. It’s perfectly fine, passable action with a mythology that inherently works even if it hardly develops in this origin story.
Vin Diesel is Bloodshot
Ray Garrison (Diesel) is a soldier who saves a hostage in a Kenya mission that looks like a first person shooter video game. That aesthetic makes more sense later. Martin Axe (Toby Kebbell) kidnaps Ray and his wife Gina (Talulah Riley), killing them both. That’s when Ray wakes up in Dr. Emil Harding (Guy Pearce)’s lab.
Harding has resurrected Ray with nanobites in his bloodstream that can repair any injury, but they do need to recharge eventually. Ray goes after Axe, and then Harding reboots him. See, Everything we saw in act one was just the programming they give Ray. They’ve done this many times before.
Resurrecting Vin Diesel
The ultimate example of a sci-fi resurrection metaphor is Robocop. OCP built Robocop but he remembers being Alex Murphy (Peter Weller). It’s OCP’s billion dollar technology that brought him back, but they can’t own Alex Murphy. Universal Soldier has that similarly. Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) died in Vietnam so it’s only the Unisol program that keeps him alive, but he’s still Luc.
Bloodshot doesn’t form nearly the connection with Ray Garrison as those movies do with their protagonists. There’s the mystery of Gina and how much of his past is real, but that’s another part of the problem. The only chance the audience ever got to see Ray and Gina happy together, in a PG-13 intimate bedroom scene, was fake.
Alex Murphy had a wife and son. Luc Deveraux at least had parents. All Ray has are generic platitudes like “You don’t know what makes a man like me.” Neither does the audience. He fights real good though.
So Ray’s awakening is not nearly as powerful because he’s not awakening from anything real, but there is a natural inclination to root for the human spirit over corporate technology. There’s also a real moral question about Ray’s missions for Harding that he flat out never asks.
And where Robocop set Alex Murphy in a nightmarish corporate future, the best Bloodshot can offer is weak comic relief. The joke is that programmer Eric (Siddharth Dhananjay) loaded Ray’s memories with movie cliches, so that’s why they’re so familiar. Instead of creating something new, they just comment on the cliches, which isn’t that insightful a comment either. Rival programmer Wilfred Wiggins (Lamorne Morris) gets to be a tad more charming.
¼ the action of ‘Fast and the Furious’ and ‘xXx’ too
So that’s the story of Bloodshot, but you can usually forgive a generic plot if the action is cool. Bloodshot’s is… okay. Director Dave Wilson and cinematographer Jacques Jouffret film all the fights too close and too shaky. It’s not as bad as the Bourne movies though, so perhaps editor Jim May made the best of it.
In the Things You’ve Never Seen Before department, there is an action scene in a tunnel covered in flour. That’s a new one. The climactic boss battle is good. Ray faces off against some of Harding’s other creations (Sam Heughan and Alex Hernandez) while pausing occasionally for what look like live-action splash pages. Yes, they walk away from an explosion in slow motion at one point.
The need to recharge the nanobites doesn’t pose many problems. That’s a missed opportunity to give Ray some vulnerability. Universal Soldiers had to cool down after every mission, and Robocop needed frequent repairs.
Eiza Gonzalez is a good match with Diesel as KT, another beneficiary of Harding technology who has more moral issues with it. They don’t delve into it too much in Bloodshot, but if they have more adventures perhaps the potential is there.